The Foreign Secretary had his team with him, Tobias Ellwood, Sir Alan Duncan and Alok Sharma, who also answered questions. The answers to Boris’s questions are given here and the remaining answers are on the link to Hansard here. Zimbabwe. Tobias Ellwood.
Israeli settlement goods. Boris was asked about the Israeli ban on visitors who advocate a boycott on settlement goods. The Foreign Secretary said Israel’s immigration policy is a matter for Israel. We are firmly against the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The FO has updated theit travel advice for Israel.
Boris agreed with Sir Eric Pickles we were right warn the UN of their disproportionate bias against Israel. He was appalled at the motion condemning Israel’s conduct at the Golan heights when in that area we have seen the most appalling barbarity from the Assad regime.
When asked what our policy was on goods and services produced in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Boris said consumers should have the right to judge whether they want to buy them. That has been the Government’s policy for many years.
Boris was told that a Foreign Office Minister has previously described the situation in Hebron as apartheid and settlement endorsement as a form of extremism. He was asked whether the Minister for Europe and the Americas, (Sir Alan Duncan) would fall foul of the new law if he attempted to travel there?
Boris said he could not believe that there would be a problem if Alan Duncan went to Israel. The Government continues to oppose the boycott movement. He said he had made very clear what he thought was the profound absurdity of denouncing Israeli conduct in that region at a time when we are seeing absolute barbarism conducted by the Assad regime against the people of Syria.
Poland. Sir Alan Duncan.
Yazidi captives. Daesh and Hezbollah Mr. Tobias Ellwood
Anglo American relations. The Foreign Secretary was asked what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on strengthening the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the US.
Boris replied “I had a series of excellent meetings last week at the White House, the State Department and elsewhere with Secretary of State Tillerson, Vice-President Pence and others. We discussed areas of common interest and shared objectives on Syria, Russia, NATO, global free trade and other questions.”
Asked if the special relationship was still very much alive, Boris Johnson replied: This is a long-standing extraordinary relationship that goes from strength to strength. Hon. Members may know that last year exports to the United States rose by 20%. It is the absolute determination of the new US Administration to do a free trade deal that will take those trade figures even further forward.”
Boris added he passionately believed that our relationship with our American ally must be a key part of our new geopolitical role outside the EU? It is the function of the UK to be the intermediary between our European friends and partners and the United States, and to campaign for the things that matter deeply to us all: the transatlantic defence alliance that has kept the peace in our continent for the past 70 years, and, of course, global free trade, which is of huge value to all of us.
Boris made the point that it is not for us to interfere into the immigration policy of the US.
When asked what damage was done by President Trump’s outburst against GCHQ, Boris replied: The damage done by such remarks can be likened to that of a gnat against a rhinoceros or an elephant. Boris insisted that the damage to our relationship with our most important ally was zero.
In reply to the usual negative sniping from the left, Boris said: ( To Emily Thornberry) With great respect, I must say that I think the right hon. Lady is again being far too pessimistic. We were told by the US presidential candidate that NATO was obsolete; we now hear that he is 100% behind NATO. We were told that the JCPOA, the joint comprehensive plan of action on Iran, was going to be junked; it is now pretty clear that America supports it. We were told that there was going to be a great love-in between the new US Administration and Russia; they are now very much more in line. As for climate change, I think the right hon. Lady is once again being too pessimistic. Let us wait and see. We have heard the mutterings of the right hon. Lady; let us see what the American Administration actually do. I think she will be pleasantly surprised, as she has been, if she were remotely intellectually honest, in all other respects.
Sudan and South Sudan. Tobias Ellwood.
Belarus. Sir Alan Duncan.
Death Penalty: United Arab Emirates Tobias Ellwood.
Bilateral Relations: India Alok Sharma
Topical Questions – Brexit
Alex Salmond asked why Boris Johnson had told Robert Peston that we would manage perfectly well if there were no Brexit deal.
The Foreign Secretary replied: The right Hon. Gentleman will recognise that the PM is going into these negotiations in the spirit of optimism and positivity from which he could learn a little. I have absolutely no doubt that there will be a great deal for this country because a great deal for this country is ultimately in the interest of our friends and partners on the other side of the channel who have a huge amount to gain.
Later on Brexit Michael Fabricant and Boris Johnson
Following the walk-out this morning by members of the Brexit Select Committee, does the Foreign Secretary agree that, far from being gloomy, we should agree with Pascal Lamy and Wolfgang Schäuble that it would be more damaging to Europe than to the UK if a success were not made of Brexit?
Boris Johnson said: I congratulate my hon. Friend on the spirit he is taking on this, which is very much the one the Prime Minister is going to adopt in the negotiations. I believe she will be absolutely vindicated, because I think our friends and partners on the other side of the channel understand exactly what he sets out. It will be an opportunity to get rid of some of the burdensome regulation that has accreted over the past 44 years, and I applaud the campaign that I know he supports and which has been outlined in the pages of this morning’s The Daily Telegraph.
Asked about Daesh, Boris Johnson said he and his international counterparts had a meeting re. Daesh and huge progress is being made. The territory of Daesh has been reduced by about 60% and territory in Syria has been reduced by about 30%. The UK is in the forefront of this effort, together with our American allies and a coalition of about 68 other countries.